NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Marijuana As Medicine -- Without The High

February 28, 2001

In labs around the world, researchers are attempting to create marijuana pills, aerosols, injections and sprays that don't carry with them marijuana's storied psychological effects.

They must overcome the problem that the same ingredient, known as THC, which appeals to pot smokers is also the one that holds promise as a medicine.

  • Recent findings suggest that THC holds more potential as a painkiller than anyone had previously guessed -- and the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded in a study two years ago that cannabinoids have "potentially far-reaching therapeutic applications."
  • Researchers are hoping to find that THC derivatives are more effective than morphine for relieving pain from spinal-cord injuries.
  • The only prescription-based medical marijuana available in the U.S. today is Marinol which -- although it can produce a high -- is used as an anti-nausea drug and appetite stimulant for AIDS patients.

Individual scientists, academic labs, and small drug firms are pushing the research the hardest -- largely because large drug firms have traditionally been leery of the cost and political problems associated with marketing marijuana as medicine. But big companies reportedly are starting to get interested in the field.

Source: Mark Robichaux, "Would Marijuana Be OK by Prescription If You Didn't Get High?" Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2001.

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